The report released by the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission said that construction of a nuclear waste storage facility to store the world's spent nuclear fuel rods and other waste would generate $257 billion in revenues, reports the Sydney Morning Herald
A nuclear waste facility in South Australia would be beneficial to the state, according to the royal commission report, generating about US$3.6 billion, (or $5.0 billion, depending on the source), a year for the first 30 years and about $2.0 billion annually until the end of the project.
Tentative findings, according to the Guardian
, say storing the estimated 429,000 tons of spent fuel rods and other nuclear waste, or about 13 percent of the world's nuclear waste, could begin as early as the late 2020s, based on a 25-year construction period. The report also estimates an initial workforce of 1,500 to start and a peak of 4,500 workers during the overall construction period.
"The storage and disposal of used nuclear fuel in South Australia would meet a global need and is likely to deliver substantial economic benefits to the community,” the commission said. “Such a facility would be viable and highly profitable under a range of cost and revenue assumptions.”
The commission also suggested the state set up a sovereign wealth fund “to accumulate and equitably share the profits from the storage and disposal of waste."
The report did mention South Australia would be ideal for the site because it is "not terribly prone to earthquakes." The commission went on to point out that the biggest hazard in having a nuclear storage site would be the emission of radiation into the environment, including the hazards from inhaling or ingesting the emitted particles by humans and other organisms.
However, the commission cites Finland and Sweden having safe facilities for long-term disposal of nuclear waste. The report points out that risks could be lowered by finding a site that is geologically stable and using several layers of packaging and containers to prevent leaking waste contaminating groundwater.
Plans would call for an above-ground temporary storage facility with a separate underground facility with tunnels and special canisters to be built later. "This would be world-class infrastructure," said the commission.
Former South Australian governor Kevin Scarce spent almost 12 months taking evidence from 128 witnesses before handing down his preliminary findings from the royal commission on Monday. While being enthusiastic about the possibility of a nuclear waste site, he was lukewarm about building a nuclear power plant in South Australia.
Scarce feels it is not commercially viable at this time to build a nuclear power plant, but did not slam the door shut to the possibility of nuclear power generation being in Australia's future energy plans, reports Bloomberg
. The Commission’s final report will be delivered on May 6.